Now that we’re into week three of the new year and the holidays are well behind us, it’s easy to stress about getting real with all those resolutions.
I don’t really care about making (or sticking to) New Years resolutions. I’m forever making changes and trying out new approaches toward getting things done in my life throughout the entire year, so piling them all on one date seems like a recipe for failure. When I’d rather just be thinking up tasty recipes. But the one palatable change after months of decadent holiday eating is “eat little healthier”. And for me, soup is always the answer, with it’s nearly endless flexibility and easy of loading up with tons of fresh veggies and legumes.
The following recipes adapted from my new book Vegan Eats World. Adapted in that I’ve streamlined a few things, because I really want you to make this rich and tangy Mediterrean-inspired soup and the delightful chickpea “parm” topping. The soup base itself is endless flexible and can be altered with the addition of any diced vegetable (zucchini, butternut squash, artichoke hearts) or bean (chickpea, kidney, navy) or any combination of fresh or dried herbs.
The parm topping is inspired from a perhaps unconventional source, a traditional Ethiopian dish that uses a toasted chickpea flour batter to mimic fluffy scrambled eggs that I played with during the writing of VEW. This tangier, finely crumbled version of bu’techa resembles fat crumbles of freshly grated parmesan cheese, that unlike popular nut-based parm, the crumbles dissolve upon contact with hot broth, creating a velvety tangy layer on top of any soup.
The chickpea topping is also excellent on top of red sauced pasta or tossed into any pasta dish, so the resolution to choose better everyday meals like soup can be all the more savory. Here’s to a tasty and healthy 2013!
White Bean Farro Soup with Chickpea Parmigianino
- 1 cup uncooked farro
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
- 2 stalks celery, finely diced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
- One 14-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon crumbled dried rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 cups vegetable broth
- Two 14-ounce cans cannellini beans or any white bean
- Additional olive oil for drizzling (optional)
- 1 cup baby spinach leaves or finely chopped escarole (optional)
- 1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
- Few twists of freshly cracked pepper and salt to taste
- 1 recipe Chickpea Parmigianino Topping
1. Pour the farro into a metal mesh sieve and rinse. In a 4-quart soup pot, preheat the olive oil over medium heat, stir in the garlic, and fry for 30 seconds. Add the onion, celery, and carrot and fry for 5 minutes or until onion is tender and translucent. Stir in the tomatoes, thyme, rosemary, salt and fry for 1 minute. Stir in the vegetable broth, beans, and farro. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil for 1 minute, then reduce heat to medium-low and partially cover. Simmer the soup for 30 to 40 minutes or until the farro grains are plump and tender. Occasionally uncover and stir the soup.
2. When the farro is tender, if using spinach or escarole stir into the soup and simmer another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in the parsley and season with pepper and salt to taste. Partially cover the soup and let stand 5 minutes before serving.
3. Ladle soup into large deep serving bowls. Sprinkle top with 2 to 3 tablespoons of Chickpea Parmigianino.
Chickpea Parmigianino Topping
Makes about 1 1/2 cups topping
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup chickpea flour
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
1. Over medium heat in a small saucepan preheat the olive oil, then pour in the chickpea flour. Use a rubber spatula to mash the flour into the oil and stir constantly to toast the flour for about 2 minutes. The flour should turn a darker shade of yellow and look slightly damp.
2. In a measuring cup whisk together the lemon juice, water, and salt. Pour into the flour; it will sizzle and splatter a little. Stir constantly until a firm ball of dough forms and pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and spread the dough onto a dinner plate. Use the spatula or your fingers (once the dough cools slightly) to press and smear the dough into a thin layer over the surface of the plate. Transfer the plate to the refrigerator and chill for 15 minutes.
3. Once the dough feels completely cool, remove from the refrigerator and drag a large fork through the dough. Continue to press the fork through it while also stirring and fluffing up the crumbs. The more you work the dough with the fork, the finer the crumbs will be. Continue for 3 to 5 minutes until it’s very fine and crumbly. Use the crumbs now, or pour into a container and chill another 20 minutes for firmer texture.
4. For best results, sprinkle crumbs generously over hot soup or pasta just before serving. The crumbs will dissolve on hot, moist food. To keep crumbs fluffy, use a fork to fluff up before serving.